Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street's Vision Deficit

In recent weeks we have seen growth of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement – a group of individuals apparently fed up with bankers, corporations, the government, and generally anyone who has more money than them.  Their demands are, well, nobody seems to know, but they have had some high-profile celebrities and public figures come out in support of their movement – celebrities like Kanye West, who embodies the precise rich, successful American against whom they are protesting.

Brian Crowley outlined the historical shift in North America from a “system of makers to a system of takers” in Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values. He meticulously details the personal attitude shift from being “makers” – people who build things, prosper, and birth successful children – to “takers” – people who sit at home on welfare, finding it easier to live off he government (and thus the taxpayer) than to get a job and be a productive member of society.
The Occupy movement represents nothing new. A few people angry at the world have surmised it is easier to wander down to New York to complain than it is to get a job. Perhaps if they had spent half that time pounding the pavement handing out resumes, some might have jobs by now.
Simple math seems to escape this group, as they insist they are “the 99%” protesting “the 1%” – society’s elites. That means this movement purportedly represents a staggering 6.93 billion people worldwide, 33.66 million in Canada, and 308.8 million in the U.S.
That would be quite an impressive movement, but a few kids angry at the world cannot claim to represent of billions of people – of whom the overwhelmingly majority live by, and have not spoken out against, the status quo. On the other hand, many have made a point of stating that the Occupy movement does not represent them.
What does Occupy hope to accomplish? No one really knows, perhaps because they are attempting to govern themselves by the assumed consensus of 6.93 billion people. Do they want to overthrow the government? Do they think Wall Street will be permanently shut down?
Here’s what just a few of the protesters are representing and hoping for:
Kim Manne from Regina, Saskatchewan says she’s fighting against “corporate suppression.” I have yet to hear of any corporations in Canada “suppressing” their workers – last I checked, you are free to leave your job at any time. Ironically, her employment on Facebook is listed as “I’m a lazy free loader.” At least she’s honest.
Cynthia S. is upset her boyfriend won’t marry her with $50,000 in student debt.
Deborah V. feels she’s over-qualified for just any job, so she feels she’ll be more productive protesting than working a minimum wage job for even a little money.
This angry teenager wants the government to pay for his college education “because that’s what he wants.”[3]  If only such solid reasoning could be applied to all public policy decisions.
David Khan of Toronto, Ontario, is desperately pulling for groups to support his Occupy Toronto movement. And he has received support - from the same fanatics who destroyed property, dug up public highways, and terrified the residents of Oka, Ipperwash, Caledonia.
Another protester, Thomas Zaugg, launched an amusing theory on secret governments, banks controlling government intelligence agencies, and the same nonsense spewed by the Zeitgeist Movement – one of a constellation of conspiracy-theory groups – during an interview last week with CP24 News. He unfortunately did such an accurate job of depicting his group as a gathering of unsuccessful conspiracists that Bryan Doherty called for him to be “taken care of.”
Reports abound of local businesses being vandalized and abused by protesters wanting to send a message.
This movement defies logic and reality. First-world nations have developed the highest standard of living ever seen in history because of capitalism.
If these self-absorbed youth want to do real, substantive good, they could protest human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia; they could build wells or schools in third-world communities; they could build houses in regions ravaged by hurricanes and tsunamis.
But it’s much easier to stay in comfy North America and question why we cannot all be millionaires.
When our parents and grandparents wanted change, they voted for change; they invented and innovated; and they fought for the recognition of certain fundamental human rights. This particular movement, however, is a spoiled generation’s tantrum over simple, harsh and inescapable realities.